In the political world, advice on how to write good emails almost always means advice on sending emails to the voters. However, those involved in running political campaigns are also (or at least, should be) very busy people, trying to get huge amounts of work done and up against immovable legal deadlines.
That means being efficient with your internal emails is also an important skill, just as in a rather more normal workplace it is useful to be good at writing efficient emails to colleagues and contact.
So here are five tips to do just that:
- Be clear what the next step will be after someone has read your email. Don’t say “we should do this”, do say “I will do this” or “Sam should do this”. Don’t say “it’s hard to decide”, do say “let’s discuss this and agree what to do at our Thursday meeting” and so on.
- Minimise the number of follow-up emails that will be required after your email has been read. Don’t say “let’s meet for coffee”, do say “shall we meet for coffee on the 5th floor at 3pm on Wednesday afternoon?”. Even if the time and place don’t suit, you are then at least immediately on to finalising the details, saving the time of the intermediate emails such as “yes” and “when?”
- Be parsimonious in who you send your emails to. The more people in the To: and cc: lines, the less attention each of them will give it.
- When you get an email asking you to do something, reply once it has been done. That way it is easy for you and for others to keep track of what has been completed and what may still need chasing or sorting.
- When you send an email that in turn requires someone else to do something, store it in a dedicated folder for messages waiting a response. Then you can quickly, easily and reliably check through what you need to follow up on.
Of course tip #5 hints at another point to email efficiency, Email Inbox Zero, for which I’ve previously written these 12 handy steps.
As for emails to voters, there’s also this advice.